From the blog

The tradition of Christmas decorations in Germany.

Christmas is an anxiously awaited time for many and that its atmosphere is magical is undeniable. However, little is known about the origin of such traditions, and Germany is present in this theme.

On December 24th we celebrated the life of the baby Jesus, the day of his birth, and to prepare for this very special date, the characteristic decorations are the start.

Who designed the first crib?

The nativity scene is one of these Christmas symbols, as it represents the scene of the birth of the baby Jesus, the main reason for the celebration of this day. This tradition emerged in 1223, through Saint Francis of Assisi, when he asked Pope permission to represent this celebration in a very lively and realistic way. After authorized St. Francis set up a straw nativity scene, with an image of the Child Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and St. Joseph, and added an ox and a donkey and several other real animals, and then it was celebrated at Christmas mass.

In the city of Oberammergau, the Passion of Christ, Passionsspiele, is represented every year, and there is a strong involvement of the community in the perpetuation of these traditions. Oberammergau is also known for its magnificent nativity scenes carved in wood, unique and incredible pieces found in some local stores, which are a great option for a very original and special gift and souvenir.

The Oberammergau Nativity scene making our home happy.

Christmas trees, when did they appear?

In the 8th century, Germany was still largely taken over by the paganism of the Germanic and Celtic peoples, when Pope Gregory III then sent St. Boniface to spread Christianity in that region.

In 723, there was a large oak tree, near Fritzlar, dedicated to the pagan god Thor, adored by the people and cell priests (Druids). Saint Boniface, with the intention of showing them that it was just a tree, like any other, felled it, and everything that was in the route of the oak’s fall was destroyed, except for a small pine tree. In this episode, Saint Boniface saw a miracle, as it occurred at the Time of Advent (in this post we will talk about Advent later).

Saint Boniface, then, preaching about Christmas, after the miracle happened, declared: “From now on, we will call this tree the Tree of the Child Jesus”. And from there the tradition has perpetuated itself, with the pine trees adorned like one of the great Christmas symbols in the world.

Christmas market in Dortmund, with the traditional large decorated Christmas tree.

The best Christmas store: Käthe Wohlfahrt

When it comes to Christmas decoration in Germany, the Käthe Wohlfahrt store is an icon. Founded in 1964 by the couple Wilhelm and Käthe Wohlfahrt, the store has become a reference in Christmas ornaments and decorations of great quality and beauty. In its stores, the magic of Christmas is renewed every day throughout the year.

You can find the store in several cities in Germany: Bamberg, Nuremberg, Berlin, Oberammergau, Rudesheim, Heidelberg, and Miltenberg. However, Rothenburg ob der Tauber is the chain’s darling, being the location of its first store, where there is the incredible Vila Natalina and the Christmas Museum.

The store also has franchises in other countries in Europe and the United States of America.

The Christmas Village inside the Käthe Wohlfahrt store in Rothenburg ob der Tauber.

Advent Calendar

The Time of the Advent is the four weeks preceding Christmas, symbolized by the joy, preparation, and expectation of the faithful for the birth of Christ. The first Sunday of advent is the day when preparations for Christmas begin, including Christmas decorations.

However, the Germans found a creative and charming way to carry out this wonderful countdown: the advent calendar. Perhaps you have already seen that Christmas calendar where every day a “little window” opens, revealing a small surprise, such as Christmas symbols, cookies, chocolates, or even biblical phrases.

The origins of Advent calendars go back to the XIX century when religious families made small strokes on the doors and walls in the counting of days for Christmas. According to what we know, it was only in 1851 that the first Advent calendar was hand-carved out of wood.

Although there is more than one chain, the most accepted one is that Gerhard Lang, in 1908, was the one who printed the first Advent calendar, where he later perfected it with the first calendars with the doors to be opened each day. Unfortunately, with the advent of World War II, Lang had to stop production.

However, after the war, this success of the German tradition returned, and Richard Sellmer was responsible for printing the first post-war copy, in 1946. This calendar was a milestone and was called “The Little Town”, which is still today available for purchase at Sellmer Verlag, a reference brand in this segment.

Part of the “Little Town” Advent calendar, sold at Sellmer Verlag.

Another way to mark the arrival of this much-awaited period is with the Advent wreath. Decorated according to the taste of those who are assembling it, it is important to have four candles, where each Sunday one will be lit and may be accompanied by the reading of a passage from the Bible. Some people add a fifth white candle in the center, called the Candle of Christ, lit on Christmas Eve.

Advent wreath.

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